Log in

Forgot your password?
You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Rail Corridor Expansion / Top agency switches from greenfields to infrastructure

Top agency switches from greenfields to infrastructure

URBAN Growth NSW is set to take control of several big- ticket infrastructure projects, including the redevelopment of Newcastle's CBD and the development of apartment towers over the railway lines at Eveleigh, inner Sydney, under a major restructure of the government agency to be announced early next year reports Lisa Allan in the Australian of 5 December 2013.

Urban Growth NSW chairman John Brogden says that regardless of any changes to planning legislation the government may introduce, the agency's mandate would now be to take control of major infrastructure projects instead of concentrating on developing greenfield housing sites, which had been its mandate for the past four decades. "We're in the process of putting together a portfolio of major projects for approval by the government in and around the Sydney CBD, including the Central to Eveleigh project," Mr Brogden said.

"Our new chief executive David Pitchford is restructuring the organisation - we're moving away from purely greenfield sites, which have been our stock in trade for 40 years, and restructuring to do more urban renewal projects. But the closer we get to some of these big projects, the more complex - there are a lot of challenges."

The Central to Eveleigh project involves the development of a3km transport corridor double the size of Barangaroo and includes upgrades to Central and Redfern stations with the potential for high- density housing, hotel developments and the expansion of tertiary education facilities.

"Building over railway lines sounds easy until you try it," Mr Brogden said. He expects skilled staff will be required, given the different types of projects the agency will be handling from next year. "As we run down the greenfields stuff we will beef up the urban renewal - the staff numbers won't increase but the staff will have a different skill set," he said.

Apart from the Central to Eveleigh development, he said Urban Growth NSW would continue with plans to renew more than 60,000sq m of land in Newcastle, with the listed GPT Group encompassing the Hunter Street Mall precinct redevelopment.

"On that one we own two - thirds of the site with GPT. With the Central to Eveleigh project, we will be the co- ordinator and the facilitator for private individuals and government owners," he said.

"We're quite pragmatic- if we don't own the site, we do master plans, we take rezonings through, we co-ordinate government and private agencies, and in other areas we might invest in the land. We're pleased the market is strong at the moment - we think the conditions are right to pull some of these major projects together."

Chris Johnson, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, said Urban Growth NSW needed a more defined role, given that the planning reforms proposed by Planning Minister Brad Hazzard were watered down by amendments.
"There's a real concern from the industry about leadership to encourage growth in Sydney," said Mr Johnson, a former NSW government architect.

"It would seem Urban Growth NSW is the ideal body to take a leadership role in championing urban densities in appropriate areas along transport corridors, around rail stations and in urban renewal areas to ensure continued supply of housing for the increasing numbers of people interested in apartment living.

"Apartments are booming in Sydney, but the planning reforms seem to have been nipped in the bud by community action groups who are anti-development and anti -apartment. Yet the ABS figures show there is a big demand for apartments, and this is leading to a boom in this building type. Someone needs to be the champion from a government perspective."

Source: The Australian 5 December 2013 p 29.